Love is learned. God’s original plan was to create us depending continuously on our caregivers during the first years of life. We depend on a caregiver to defend us from several threats, until we have enough skills to live in the world. This fact shows the importance that God gives to love among us. As children, attachment helps us protect ourselves in threatening situations; such as a disease, or a fall, in fights with other children, or when separating from our mothers. We cry to seek for attention and affection while we are learning how to speak.
Ultimately, love is learned, it is a skill that every person can have, no one is born with that condition. This skill is learnt through attachment. The feelings of love that are shown, for example, in a smile, a gesture of approval, or a touch, come from a response learned in our relationships with others. Each person has a way to define what love is, since it arises from the total amount of what we have lived, and the way we have lived it. This personal way of loving is learnt from what we observe in our parents or caregivers.
The emotional view is not encouraging for a person who has been abandoned by his/her parents and who has also been mistreated and even abused in any way. This condition determines the way that person behaves, which predicts little success in the relationships that person will establish throughout life. A child’s brain that is evolving, that is moldable, is eager to absorb experiences, but undergoes changes when subjected to abuses. Here we can see what happened to Joaquin. He did not learn how to love or to feel loved in his own home. He grew up feeling insecure, undervalued, without the love that feeling accepted by the loved ones can make a person feel. On many occasions he repressed his emotions, he tried to look like he was feeling comfortable, happy … showing something opposite to what he really felt: loneliness, discontent and discomfort.
The worst evil a child can suffer is to disguise his feeling of loneliness or lack of love due to circumstances that force him/her to do so, this generates guilt in his/her mind because he/she does not feel his/her love back. In a child’s mind, it would be logical to think: “My parents do not love me because I am not good”. In addition, to make things worse, failing to fulfill other people’s requirements makes children feel ashamed. In Joaquin’s case, abandonment led him to feel awkward when being among other people, which prevented him from reaching the potential for which he was created for: Loving. Love is learned at home.
However, there is good news for you. Our brain is flexible, it is constantly changing. We learn from hard circumstances, drawing the necessary strength we need to overcome them. The strength that a person has to overcome traumatic situations, such as the death of a loved one, an accident, a physical or emotional loss, is stored inside, it shows when being forced by circumstances. We have a flexible brain that is willing to overcome obstacles. Goodwill, certainty in God, the intention for things to work, create new brain connections. Brain functioning is set in motion with positive thoughts: such as hope, faith, goodwill, forgiveness and challenges about relationships of trust that endure over time.
Joaquin could learn how to be a resilient person. Applying an approach based on progress you can say: I have finished a stage of my life and now I must focus on myself. I am not looking to blame others, I plan to learn from what I have lived, and I will move on. I challenge you today to tell yourself: I refuse to be a victim of circumstances. Say no! to continue feeding that pain that makes you captive. To think well would be to consider that humanity has survived a diversity of adversities, and yet it has rebuilt its life and managed to be happy despite everything.
Inside each one of us, there is a mental force called resilience, which can erase that role of victim in anyone, so we can arise as the person we really are: someone strong, who can be happy again. Love is learned, and it is not too late to learn how to do it. It is necessary to say that within us the desire to be happy is clear; the power of God that pushes us to remain tied to the thread of life in order to be happy. Based on this desire, all decisions are made. You can do it.
Perhaps you are that person, the Joaquin of the story from our last post, who has suffered throughout life because your parents did not teach you the healing power of love. The only way you have left is to keep living, despite the setback that has affected your life, and to do so, you must see yourself as a phoenix, which is able to be reborn from its ashes and never as a hopeless victim. Get up and learn how to love.